Legendary singer Shane MacGowan has died

A poet and musician whose words touched upon the most human of subjects – love, sorrow, and the craic – Shane MacGowan is etched deeply into the hearts of his fans, his family, his friends, and anyone for whom his lyrics resonated.

Legendary singer and poet Shane MacGowan has died, aged 65, following several months of treatment in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, for an infection. He had been discharged from hospital and was spending time with his wife, Victoria Mary Clarke.

Victoria paid tribute to her husband today in a post, saying: “I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to say it. Shane who will always be the light that I hold before me and the measure of my dreams and the love of my life and the most beautiful soul and beautiful angel and the sun and the moon and the start and end of everything that I hold dear has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese.

“I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures.

“There’s no way to describe the loss that I am feeling and the longing for just one more of his smiles that lit up my world. Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your presence in this world you made it so very bright and you gave so much joy to so many people with your heart and soul and your music. You will live in my heart forever. Rave on in the garden all wet with rain that you loved so much. You meant the world to me.”

Anyone who knew him would probably tell you that Shane MacGowan was charming. Even Hollywood star Johnny Depp admitted that he ‘fell in love’ with him the moment he met him. Indeed, Shane’s charm was legendary among the many circles in which he socialised. He could be the life of the party to some, or a thoughtful, intellectual scholar of the arts to others.

There’s almost a cheekiness in the fact that Shane was born on Christmas Day, 1957. The son of Irish immigrants living in the UK, this lineage and culture would prove to be the basis for much of MacGowan’s art. Like an Irish Johnny Cash, he sang about people on the margins of society – the drinkers, the gamblers, the sex workers, and the disenfranchised. He could see the beauty in the hearts of those that were left behind.

Shane formed his most popular band, The Pogues, as part of the 80s punk rock scene in London, and it was during this chaotic time in the music industry that he developed his signature singing style coupled with lyrics that could be heart-wrenching, beautiful, or dripping with humour and venom. At this early stage in the history of punk rock, it was highly unusual to see a banjo or a tin whistle on stage, but that’s exactly how The Pogues differentiated themselves from the others – with a trad flavour that recognised the inherent ‘anarchy’ in Irish music.

Success came easily to The Pogues and to Shane, whose collaboration with Kirsty MacColl, ‘Fairytale of New York’, released in 1987, would remain a Christmas hit to this very day and likely for the forseeable future.

And while The Pogues would find success, break up, and reunite over the course of his life, Shane remained a prolific artist and musician throughout as the leader of Shane MacGowan and The Popes, The Shane Gang, or through his many collaborations with artists such as Sinéad O’Connor, Nick Cave, Johnny Depp, and many more.

And though his health may have been marred by years of excess, Shane never lost his ability to speak directly to his listeners and connect with them on a level most profound.

Kitty by The Pogues

In a day now I’ll be over the mountain
There’ll be time enough left for to cry
So good night and God guard you forever
And write to me won’t you, goodbye
So good night and God guard you forever
And write to me won’t you, goodbye

(Image: Krizz)

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